The NBA Development League doesn't have the best reputation, but it certainly has been improving over the past several seasons. That reputation, along with the upcoming D-League Showcase, has brought plenty of prospects to the NBA's official minor league as of late.
The Showcase is happening in lovely Reno, Nev., next Monday, January 9, and continues through the 12. The annual event is looked at as the most important part of the D-League season for many -- even more important than the league's playoffs -- and it seems many players are signing with the league in order to get into basketball shape prior to heading to Reno.
Four former NBA starters signed D-League contracts within the past week as Greg Ostertag, Ricky Davis, Mike James and Damon Jones have all decided that signing in the Development League is the best move for them at this point in their career. Along with that, four assignment players -- Hamady Ndiaye from the Washington Wizards, Darington Hobson from the Milwaukee Bucks and Hassan Whiteside and Tyler Honeycutt from the Sacramento Kings (with more on their way) -- are all likely to remain in the D-League through next week's Showcase.
The eight players above are joining plenty of players that were cut in training camp, but why is the D-League Showcase such an alluring event that it would force all of these veteran players to sign contracts that will pay them -- at most -- a prorated $25,500 for the rest of the season?
The Showcase is an annual event where all 16 D-League teams play two games over the course of four days in front of NBA representatives from all 30 teams as well as overseas executives and agents aplenty.
The prospect of having so many people in one room is what forced me to buy my tickets and secure my hotel room (along with the allure of possible freelancing gigs if any come along) and is apparently causing these players to come out of the woodwork.
Three of the four games from each day will be broadcast nationally on NBA TV, adding extra exposure -- especially considering two games each day will be broadcast live. It simply isn't every day that a player is afforded what amounts to being an open tryout, in a game setting, in front of every one of his prospective future employers with the pressure of national TV surrounding it all. Teams typically pick a few D-Leaguers to interview in between games as well, giving them a first-hand account of what exactly they can expect from their next potential call-up.
Which players are able to live up to that pressure remains to be seen, but the fact that so many players are willing to try making it back into the league by showcasing their skills in the aptly named Showcase shows just how far at least one aspect of the D-League has become.